The Hack: It’s all about the money

Forget the stories of coups in far-flung places and how despots bring outside guns to try and bring stability.

The real mercenaries are in the sporting world. At least that’s what current trends indicate.

We’ve got to a stage where boxers just don’t know when to call it quits and cricketers will jump on a plane for a quick buck.

I understand that it’s all about earning potential and why the hell shouldn’t you accept the cash if it’s being offered to you.

But there are two cases that led me to this topic.

The first was the devastating knockout that Roy Jones Jr experienced at the hands of Enzo Maccarinelli last weekend, a guy who I consider to be little more than B-grade. Nothing spectacular. But now he’s got a massive name on his CV.

To think, Jones Jr was once considered to be the undisputed champion in his division and is probably a shoe-in for a place in the Boxing Hall of Fame. But the longer he keeps fighting the more he’ll tarnish his legacy.

Boxers can only receive one of the sport’s greatest accolades once they hang up their gloves.

Bouncing from one purse cheque to the next is also likely to have an effect on the 46-year-old’s health.

The second bit of evidence to my theory that I’d like to put forward shines the light firmly on the cricketers who bounce between competitions.

It is perhaps best epitomised by the group of players, every single one of them legends of the game, who assembled in the United States of all places in a three match series that pitted a team captained by Shane Warne against one marshalled by Sachin Tendulkar.

It was under the guise of growing the sport in the country that the fixtures took place but you can bet your bottom dollar that money was made in the process. Why do it otherwise?

To make it worse, the average age of both sides was 42 which meant that a number of the players who featured all formed part of my cricket upbringing.

The West Indies contingent of Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Carl Hooper and Brian Lara all featured in the tour to South Africa in 1998 when, as a 10-year-old, my love for cricket intensified.

Don’t forget that Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Alan Donald and the inimitable Jonty Rhodes – all icons of South African cricket – all played as well.

To a die-hard cricket lover it came across as very gimmicky.

Don’t forget that the Masters Champions League, a T20 tournament in the United Arab Emirates, begins early next year and will see a number of retired internationals dust off their gear. It’s already begun talks of comebacks.

It’s probably a tad poignant that this column is being written in the confines of the press box at the Wanderers during a Sunfoil Series clash. Games that don’t draw crowds but do go a long way in nurturing talent.

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